The PURE Tension Volvo Pavilion was a collaborative effort between Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), Buro Happold (BH), and Fabric Images, Inc. The design began as a concept, commissioned by Volvo Car Italia to showcase the new Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid. The purpose- to create a lightweight, rapidly deployable, tensioned membrane structure that would act as a portable charging station, fitting within the trunk of the car.
While conceptual, the PURE Tension Volvo V60 Pavilion has proven to be reliable in addressing the issue of sustainability. The power strategy incorporated into the architecture enabled the Photovoltaic panels to collect enough energy to power and charge the Volvo V60. What started as experimental in nature was brought to life through dedication to the design and a true understanding of the vision and purpose of the project.
Creating the architecture was a perimeter aluminum framework. The simplistic nature of the structure was tensioned in place with the help of the fabric cover. The frame pushes out while the skin pulls in, creating a lightweight, cost effective and easily transportable solution. Because patterning of the fabric could not be figured through typical tensile patterning methods, a digital form was exploded into non-uniform quadrilaterals to allow for the digital mesh to become successfully unrolled into hundreds of tiles. A total of 518 tiles of fabric were essentially quilted together, combining tension and shape which ultimately gave way to the essence of the design.
The fabric utilized was Miller Mesh. This fabric was chosen due to its balance of performance and aesthetic appearance. Along with the efficiencies of the fabric, the moiré effect produced by the mesh also encouraged visual interaction. Within the open quality of the mesh, two worm holes discretely took form. These tunnels were patterned into the design of the fabric, adding additional tension and expanding the visual interest of the architecture.
Incorporated into the architecture were 178 Photovoltaic cells. The placement of the cells was critical to ensure a direct hit from the sun or artificial lighting. To secure the cells to the architecture, each was mounted to leaf-shaped panels of black vinyl, which were then applied to the mesh fabric covering. Once attached, the cells were wired together meeting at the center, where the wiring then ran down the spine of the architecture, leading to the main battery supply.
The PURE Tension Pavilion made its debut in Milan, Italy in October for the Volvo Italia press event launching the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid. The PURE Tension charging station together with the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will now be part of a road-show through Italy’s biggest cities. In a recent press release by Volvo, Michele Crisci, President of Volvo Car Italia, stated, “We have rewarded an idea that is fantastic, simple and at the same time highly sophisticated from a creative point of view. I expected a project that was able to convey what is fundamentally Volvo Cars, which in addition to safety, means quality, environmental sustainability, functionality and making technology available to everyone. In this, we have it all. And to see it brought to reality increases the buzz that the initial idea generated even further.”